It is heartening to see filmmakers such as Anurag Kashyap,Imtiaz Ali and yourself supporting indie cinema made by contemporaries.
The biggest challenge for Indian cinema that is not mainstream is that it will always be niche and will need to fight for space. When I watched Ship of Theseus (SoT) at Enlighten Film Societys screening last year,I was blown away and thats why Im supporting it.
Much like your film Dhobi Ghat, SoT is also introspective. Was that also a draw for you?
There are some parallels. SoT asks many questions; it doesnt tie everything up but lets you explore those questions through conversation and thought. It looks at life and the various worlds that we inhabit. That is what I wanted to do with my film too. Both the movies talk about how we are all connected and how our lives impact each other without our knowing.
Do you think Dhobi Ghat would have been as niche as SoT had your husband not come on board?
Dhobi Ghat would have faced the same problems as SoT had he not supported it. It also helped that he was the producer. But I doubt I will be able to bring to SoT what Aamir brought to my film because I dont have his loyal fan base of 25 years.
Then why not have Aamir Khan present SoT?
Aamir is a double-edged sword. By having him on board,we would have achieved numbers but also got gaalis from the audience because SoT isnt everyones kettle of fish. I would like to believe there is more audience for a film such as this than we credit but it still isnt very big. We are releasing in 25 screens across Mumbai,Delhi,Kolkota,Bangalore and Pune.
And you are juggling all this with motherhood?
Last few years have been the most exciting for me. I managed to make a baby with my film. Then,despite health issues and trauma,we had Azad. I hadnt imagined I would feel so much joy on having him because I wasnt the kind of person who would choose to have a baby in face of health issues. But it has brought me a great sense of fulfillment and I am torn every day I leave home.
Did it never cross your mind to become a full-time mother?
In the beginning,I thought I wouldnt make up my mind about my career. In fact, I havent worked actively in very long. I wasnt on board of Satyamev Jayate because I knew Id have to pull out as soon as Azad came. But by the time he was 10 months old and walking,I realised I wanted some me time too even if its just to read or collect thoughts. I started to create space for myself,which is why I got closer to writing a script and have a part of the draft going. Now I again want to be involved in the films that Aamir Khan Productions makes. As of now,I work from home but once Azad starts going to montessori,I will hopefully be more disciplined.
Your choice of cinema is rather unconventional whereas Aamir operates within mainstream. How do you cope?
I wasnt brought up on a diet of pop culture. Growing up in Kolkata,we rarely ever went to the cinemas or watched movies save a few that came on television. Of course,I knew of Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna but they werent part of my lexicon; I was more into literature. I didnt decide this is the world I want to be associated with,but realised various kinds of cinema exist during my stint at Jamia Millia and the exposure I got there helped refine my taste. Now,I enjoy a variety of narratives although I still dont have a natural instinct for it. My own sensibilities would at best tilt towards films such as Peepli Live and Taare Zameen Par.
You were working on a project to open a cultural centre in Mumbai that would be a hub for all art forms?
Its been in pipeline for so long that I am getting impatient now. It has been my dream that there be a place in Mumbai for artists of all kind to mingle and connect. A space that will screen films that are independent,short or documentaries,host music performances,workshops and discussions or just have a cup of coffee. Such spaces create a sense of
community. Who knows when an idea is born and one finds a collaborator.